Attention is returning to global climate action and the possibility of a ‘green’ economic recovery from the coronavirus outbreak after the first international climate talks of the year took place this week.
The Petersberg Climate Dialogue took place online, co-hosted by the UK and Germany, and focused on how European countries will regain momentum around climate action following the easing of lockdown, and amid the upcoming recession.
The EU has outlined how a ‘Green New Deal will be at the heart of its plans for economic recovery, with a transition fund worth 100 billion euros to help industries decarbonise.
On behalf of the UK, Alok Sharma, the minister for business, energy and industrial strategy, and the new president of the COP26 climate summit, said the UK is committed to energy transition and a move to zero-emission road transport as its key campaigns.
The COP26 summit was due to take place in October in Glasgow but has been postponed with a new date yet to be confirmed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
“While we rightly focus on fighting the immediate crisis of the coronavirus, we must not lose sight of the huge challenges of climate change,” said Sharma.
“To meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, we need to decarbonise the global economy about three to five times faster over the next decade than we did over the last two decades.”
Sharma said that by the most optimistic estimates, over half of new car sales globally will be electric vehicles by 2040. “To meet the Paris Agreement goals, we probably need all new vehicles to be zero emission by then. In other words, we’re going to need to double the pace of the global transition,” he said.
Also speaking at the talks, Professor Stern, chair of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at LSE, said: “We should aim not to go back to old normal. It was deeply fragile and dangerous. There is a positive way out of it: rebuild a much greener and more equitable world.”
While the reopening of climate-focused talks has been welcomed, some experts have pointed out that post-Covid support packages have focused on bailing out high carbon industries.
Separately, this week the UK has recorded its longest-ever period without using coal-powered energy, for 18 consecutive days, thanks to a huge increase in solar power.